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Ben Boychuk

is associate editor of City Journal, where he writes on education and California politics. Previously, he served as managing editor of the Heartland Institute's School Reform News and the Claremont Review of Books. He is also a former editorial writer for Investor's Business Daily and the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California. Reach him at

Boychuk writes a weekly column for the Sacramento Bee and Scripps-Howard News Service. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the New York PostNational Review Online, the Korea Times and newspapers across the United States.

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A Prelude to Death Panels

Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the architects of Obamacare, writes in Atlantic Monthly that “75 is a pretty good age to aim to stop (die).” He insists he isn’t advocating death at 75 to ration health care or save money. But some Obamacare critics worry that his musings might eventually become law. 

Some don’t view elderly as a priority

By BEN BOYCHUK 

Manhattan Institute’s City Journal
J
ust as Ezekiel Emanuel is careful to freight his 5,000 word Atlantic essay with caveats and qualifications, I would be careful not to make any sweeping claims about what you may or may not be required to do in the autumn of your years.

But you needn’t be a hysteric to distrust the easygoing claims of a man who elsewhere argues explicitly for rationing health care.

Emanuel co-authored a 2009 article for Lancet, a U.K. medical journal, that laid out “Principles for Allocation of Scarce Medical Interventions.” Emanuel and his colleagues considered how best to allocate resources based on several models before settling on a “complete lives system.”

Put simply: it prioritizes young people at the expense of old people.

Obamacare is no bargain. Fact is, health care gets more expensive all the time. It is heavily regulated and subsidized.

Federal subsidies under the law will likely top $16.5 billion this year, according to federal figures. The malfunctioning healthcare.gov website alone has cost taxpayers more than $2 billion, a Bloomberg report found.

You needn’t be an actuary to see where all this is headed. The government will be under tremendous pressure to curb costs as more Americans end up getting insured through subsidized exchanges. Older people often have chronic conditions that are more costly to treat. When resources are limited, you look to cut the big expenses. Pretty soon, dying at 75 might look like a fiscal necessity.

A recent Associated Press poll found that only 30 percent of U.S. adults approve of Obamacare. Another poll by McLaughlin and Associates found that 60 percent of likely voters now favor either repealing the law outright or replacing it with something else.

Repeal, like growing old, may not be so bad when you consider the alternative. 

Reach Ben Boychuk at  op-ed was distributed by Tribune News Service.